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Rising waters

New research suggests that glaciers are disappearing and sea levels are rising.

Excluding the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the Canadian Arctic hosts the largest area of glaciers and ice caps in the world, covering an area of 145,000 square kilometres. (Photo: Laura Thomson)

As part of an international research collaboration, Queen’s University scientist and lead Canadian researcher Laura Thomson examined the contribution of Canadian glaciers and ice caps to global sea level rise. The research shows that, with the exception of the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets, the Canadian Arctic has become the largest contributor to global sea level rise in recent years (2006-2016).

Taking into account statistical uncertainties, the findings suggest the mass loss of glaciers may be larger than previously reported.

Dr. Thomson, who leads the new Snow and Ice Research Laboratory in the Department of Geography and Planning, says the Canadian Arctic is currently responsible for 30 per cent of meltwater added to the oceans each year, which amounts to approximately a 1.1 millimetre sea level rise every five years.

Climate variables measured at weather stations are used to determine the key processes responsible for glacier response. (Photo: Laura Thomson)

“This study incorporates more than 50 years of observations by Canadian glaciologists, including federal scientists and university researchers who contribute their findings to the World Glacier Monitoring Service,” Dr. Thomson explains. “Since Canada hosts the largest area of glaciers outside of Greenland and Antarctica, a study like this requires collaboration and contributions from many researchers. In addition to collecting field-based observations, my contribution includes collecting and assimilating measurements from Canadian ice masses for the World Glacier Monitoring Service.”

University of Zurich Professor Michael Zemp, and colleagues including Dr. Thomson, used observational data collected from over 19,000 glaciers using two different methods to determine mass changes between 1961 and 2016. From this the research shows that glaciers contributed around 27 millimetres to global mean sea-level rise over this period.

“By combining field methods with satellite-based observations of glacier thinning, this study updates and improves upon previous estimates of glacier and ice cap contributions to sea level rise,” says Dr. Thomson. “This integrated approach also accounts for and corrects a previously existing bias associated with traditional field-based methods, allowing us to more accurately determine regional glacier losses from point measurements.”

The authors of the paper then calculated the mass-change rates for glaciers from 2006 to 2016 and found that during this decade alone they contributed nearly one millimetre each year to sea-level rise.

“Based on our findings, we suggest that glaciers could almost disappear in some mountain ranges by 2100 (including the Caucasus, Central Europe, Western Canada and the USA, and New Zealand),” Dr. Thomson says. “However, regions with many glaciers like the Canadian Arctic will continue to contribute to sea-level rise beyond this century.”

The new research was recently published in Nature.

The Conversation: Perverse passions that will not die

[Bela Lugosi as Dracula]
Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Dracula in Tod Browning’s 1931 horror film is influenced by John Polidori’s tale of terror, ‘The Vampyre,’ first published — suggestively — on April Fools’ Day 1819. Universal Pictures

Vampires have stalked humans for thousands of years, but it was just 200 years ago that a young English doctor named John Polidori introduced the modern version of the ancient demon.

Although far less well-known than Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Polidori’s The Vampyre was first published — suggestively — on April Fools’ Day 1819. This brief tale of terror set the pattern for all future representations of the vampire, including Stoker’s, and it launched a vampire craze that after two centuries still retains its ability to grab us by the throat.

It is hard to imagine, but The Vampyre as well as Frankenstein, two of Western literature’s most enduring myths, were the results of the same ghost story writing contest.

Vampires today inhabit a wide realm of the popular imagination in everything from novels, films and television shows to cartoons, video games, comic books and advertisements. They are also a powerful metaphor for conceiving and representing all manner of cultural practices and social problems, from the spread of sexually transmitted disease, through the mental and bodily pains of drug addiction, to the many ways in which technology and social media penetrate our daily lives.

The writing contest

Handsome, arrogant, and hot-tempered, Polidori was educated at a Catholic boarding school and then at the University of Edinburgh, where in 1815 he received his medical degree at the age of just 19. Less than a year later, the course of his life changed dramatically when Lord Byron, the most famous literary man of the day, hired him as his travelling companion and personal physician.

Quick to see the commercial potential of the arrangement, Byron’s publisher, John Murray, commissioned Polidori to keep a diary of his time with the notorious poet, whose passionate interest in young men and scandalous love affair with his half-sister Augusta had hastened his departure from England.

Polidori immediately saw the predatory side of Byron’s personality.

“As soon as he reached his room,” Polidori wrote from Belgium in April 1816, “Lord Byron fell like a thunderbolt upon the chambermaid.”

Shortly thereafter, Byron and Polidori took up residence at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. Polidori saw himself as a rival to Byron and relations between them soon deteriorated.

“What is there excepting writing poetry that I cannot do better than you?” Polidori demanded.

“First,” Byron snapped in reply, “I can hit with a pistol the keyhole of that door – Secondly, I can swim across that river to yonder point – and thirdly, I can give you a damned good thrashing.”

The aristocrat and his doctor were soon joined by a like-minded trio of literary and sexual renegades: the radical poet and free-love advocate Percy Bysshe Shelley, his 18-year-old lover Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont, also 18 and Byron’s most recent amour. It was an extraordinary meeting of minds and bodies.

Bad weather kept the group indoors, and in mid-June Byron challenged each of them to write a ghost story. Claire defaulted. Shelley may have produced a brief verse fragment as his contribution to the competition. Byron started but did not complete the short tale of terror now known as Augustus Darvell.

The winners are…

Godwin (the future Mary Shelley) and Polidori each produced a finished and immensely influential work. She created Frankenstein. He composed The Vampyre.

These spectacular results make the competition the most famous in all of English literary history. It is a striking thought that the same writing contest gave us both Frankenstein and The Vampyre, the two most enduring myths of the modern world.

Before Polidori, vampires were very different creatures. Shaggy, fetid and bestial, they preyed on family members, neighbours or livestock in nocturnal raids that in many accounts approached both the risible and the revolting. Polidori changed all that.

His vampire was highly resourceful and haunted, not the village or the district, but the drawing rooms of polite society and the pleasure dens of international travellers. What is more, instead of the peasant-turned-ghoul of ancient folklore, Polidori elevated the vampire to the ranks of the aristocracy, where as a hypnotically handsome predator he seduced beautiful young women and sucked their life away.

Polidori’s tale centres on fatal vows, paralysis, isolation, betrayal and the return of the dead. He clearly models his vampire, Lord Ruthven, on Lord Byron, for the two have in common good looks, callousness, high rank, mobility, wealth and keen sexual appetites. Aubrey is Ruthven’s friend and travelling partner, and his relationship with Ruthven is usually read as Polidori’s own complex fascination with Byron — a fascination that both attracts and appalls him.

In the tale, Ruthven sucks strength from Aubrey as their relationship declines, but he takes a much more deadly interest in Aubrey’s unnamed sister and Aubrey’s close friend, Ianthe, both of whom he dispatches with his insatiable fangs:

“Upon her neck and breast was blood, and upon her throat were the marks of teeth having opened the vein: – to this the men pointed, crying, simultaneously struck with horror, ‘a Vampyre, a Vampyre!’”

A scene from the 1922 silent horror classic, ‘Nosferatu,’ influenced by Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’

A 200-year-long fascination

There have been many more sophisticated and explicit renderings of vampiric lore in the two centuries since Polidori’s tale first appeared. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu popularized the female vampire in his tale of terror Carmilla (1872), Stoker took the lordly fiend to new heights in Dracula (1897) and over the course of the last 100 years novelists, poets, playwrights, artists, movie makers and screenwriters have returned obsessively to vampires.

Polidori’s tale touched off this fascination. Two centuries ago he corrected the drastic deficiencies of the folklore and reimagined the vampire as a suave, mysterious, sexually dynamic elite who defies time and place, who consumes ravenously and without guilt, and who represents perverse passions that will not die.

But the spread of vampirism does not end there. Vampires terrify us now because, in the hands of the countless writers and artists who have drawn their creative lifeblood from Polidori’s reincarnation, they serve as potent and protean representations of whatever we most fear about foreignness, sexuality, selfhood, disease, the afterlife, history and much else. They represent our undying urge for gratification. They embody the monstrous return of what we bury both in ourselves and in our collective past.The Conversation


Robert Morrison is a professor of English Language and Literature at Queen's University. 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.  

Queen’s University alumna named Gairdner laureate

Connie Eaves (Artsci'64, MA'66) earns the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for her work in cancer research.

Queen’s University alumna Connie Eaves (Artsci'64, MA'66) has been honoured with the prestigious Canada Gairdner Wightman Award for her pioneering work and leadership in the study of hematopoietic, mammary and cancer stem cells and her dedicated advocacy for early-career investigators and women in science.

[Connie Eaves]
Connie Eaves (Artsci'64, MA'66) is the 2019 recipient of the Canada Gairdner Awards. (Supplied Photo) 

The Canada Gairdner Awards are widely considered to be one of the world’s top medical awards. They celebrate breakthroughs in medical research and are awarded annually to scientists around the globe.

“On the 60th anniversary of the Canada Gairdner Awards, the Gairdner Foundation continues to uphold the tradition of honouring the best and brightest researchers from around the world,” says Lorne Tyrrell, Chair, Board of Directors, Gairdner Foundation. “Whether it is the field of global mental health, stem cell biology or fundamental cell biology and DNA replication, the work of each of this year’s laureates is both critical and extraordinary.”

Dr. Eaves received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry and a master’s degree in biology from Queen’s in 1964 and 1966.

She then pursued doctoral training at the Paterson Laboratories of the Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute and obtained a PhD from the University of Manchester in England in 1969.

Dr. Eaves’ research has focused on leukemia and breast cancer and the normal tissues in which these diseases originate. Her scientific findings have been paradigm-shifting, driving the field of stem cell research forward.

Throughout her career, she has demonstrated national and international leadership. Dr. Eaves co-founded the Terry Fox Laboratory in the British Columbia Cancer Agency, was a leader in the Canadian Stem Cell Network and held multiple senior roles in the National Cancer Institute of Canada, where she spearheaded the establishment of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance to create the first national source of breast cancer research funding in Canada.

Dr. Eaves is also a passionate advocate for the advancement of women in science, a commitment that led to her recognition as a Status of Women Canada Pioneer.

For more information visit the website.

It’s the People’s Choice

2019 Art of Research Adjudication Committee
Nadya Allen, Manager, International and Programs, Education
Jennifer Chen, Coordinator, Research Activities and Communications, OVPR
Bernard Clark, Photographer
Anja Cui, PhD Candidate, Psychology
Alexandra da Silva, Rector
Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations)
Robin Moon, Digital User Experience Manager, University Relations
Kevin Mumford, Associate Professor, Civil Engineering
Kent Novakowski, Associate Vice-Principal (Research)
Julian Ortiz, Associate Professor, Mining
Dave Rideout, Senior Communications Officer, University Relations
Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor 
Vanessa Yzaguirre, Special Projects Officer, Human Rights and Equity Office

Have your say in promoting the beauty and creativity of research happening at Queen’s. Voting is now open for the ‘People’s Choice’ category of the fourth annual Art of Research photo contest.

The contest provides a unique and accessible method of sharing and celebrating ground-breaking research in all settings, from the summit of a mountaintop to a microscope slide. More than 100 submissions were received this year from faculty, staff, students and alumni.

This year, along with winners selected in the categories of ‘Community Collaborations,’ ‘Invisible Discoveries,’ ‘Out in the Field,’ ’Art in Action’ and ‘Best Caption,’ two anniversary prizes were offered to celebrate the milestones of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Faculty of Education. Images selected for the ‘People’s Choice’ vote were entries that generated discussion and were shortlisted by the adjudication committee. All prizes come with a monetary prize of $500.

A preview of this year’s ‘People’s Choice’ selection can be seen in the slideshow below. Images vary in subject and theme, but they each celebrate the outstanding research happening at Queen’s.

Voting closes on April 9 at 4 pm. Visit the survey to vote for your favourite image.

  • Hunting for Tourists - Norman Vorano
    Hunting for Tourists - Norman Vorano, Professor, Art History: While in Pond Inlet, Baffin Island, Nunavut, to de-install an art exhibition, we took a break to watch a recently arrived cruise ship offload passengers under the watchful gaze of the Canadian Coast Guard ship, Henry Larsen (left). High above the tideline, an old wrecked wooden rowboat was in its final resting place. Like the boats that plied these waters during the whaling era, it was likely used by an Inuit hunter to support his family. The juxtaposition of the three boats was a stark visual metaphor of the region's changing economy and warming climate. The whalers, long gone, are replaced by the tourists.
  • Porous Plastic Particle - Ross Jansen-van Vuuren
    Porous Plastic Particle - Ross Jansen-van Vuuren, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry: The photograph is of a water-swollen hydrogel particle created in our chemistry laboratory, taken with an instrument called a Scanning Electron Microscope, which allows us to zone in and see important details on the surface of the hydrogel. A hydrogel is essentially a plastic material that is able to absorb very large volumes of water (up to 800 times its weight!) – much like a baby diaper, swelling as it does so. From the image, the surface of the hydrogel is seen to possess large, distinctive pores, which help us to understand how and why hydrogels absorb so much liquid.
  • Nano-dendrite Collision - Hannah Dies
    Nano-dendrite Collision - Hannah Dies, MD/PhD, Chemical Engineering: This scanning electron microscopy image depicts branched gold nano-structures (nano-dendrites) growing from planar microelectrode tips and crashing halfway, buckling upwards to create third dimension of nano-features. The structures assemble from gold nanoparticles under the influence an applied electric field, similar to how iron filings assemble under the influence of a magnetic field. The gold nanoparticle building blocks are 50 nm in diameter – about 5000 times smaller than a human hair. The branched network formed by these nano-structures promotes incredible sensitivity for small molecule detection by means of Raman spectroscopy. At the QuSENS laboratory, and with the startup company Spectra Plasmonics Inc., we use these nano-structures to detect illicit drugs, pesticides, and explosives at ultralow and societally relevant concentrations.

Seminar fosters discussions and lasting connections


[RSC Semninar Speakers]
Three Queen's faculty members – Heather Stuart, John McGarry, and Joan Schwartz – will be presenting aspects of their research at the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada on Saturday, April 13. (University Communications) 

Members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities will have the opportunity to hear four of Canada’s leading researchers speak about their experiences and discoveries as the university hosts the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar of the Royal Society of Canada on Saturday, April 13.

For academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, being elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) – either as a Fellow or a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists – is one of the highest honours they can achieve.

At the seminar, four RSC members – three from Queen’s and one from University of Ottawa – will provide insights into their work and experiences.

The schedule of presentation includes:
- 10 am: Heather Stuart, Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair, Queen’s — The Nature and Nurture of Mental Illness Related Stigma
- 11 am: John McGarry, Sir Edward Peacock Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s — ‘The Diplomat’s graveyard’:  Why Resolving the Cyprus Problem is not Easy
- 2 pm: Jamie Benidickson, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa — Sewage Then and Now: Public Health Challenges and Climate Change Opportunities
- 3 pm: Joan Schwartz, Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Queen’s — Rethinking Discursive Origins: Alexander von Humboldt, Photography, and the Pursuit of Geographical Knowledge

The annual event is organized under the guidance of co-chairs John Burge (Dan School of Drama and Music), a Fellow of the RSC, and Amir Fam (Civil Engineering), a Member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

“Each year this seminar brings together researchers who are leaders in their fields and this year’s group is no exception,” says Dr. Burge. “The sharing of intellectual ideas can be a great stimulus for one’s own creativity and this seminar is a great opportunity to broaden one’s horizons and knowledge base.”

Another goal of the Eastern Ontario Regional Seminar is to bring together leading researchers and community members to foster fascinating discussions and lasting connections.

“At the heart of the seminar is the common quest for knowledge and the sharing of perspectives,” says Dr. Fam. “By bringing together speakers from across disciplines the seminar helps foster new contacts and new paths of thought for not only the audience but the presenters as well.”

All events take place at the Queen’s University Club (168 Stuart St.) and talks are open and free to the public. Following the first two presentations a luncheon is being hosted by Principal Daniel Woolf. Registration is required for the luncheon, which costs $30. Registration for the luncheon by Friday, April 5 would be appreciated. RSVP by phone, 613-533-6000 x78797 or email: FEAS.ResearchAdmin@queensu.ca.

For more information about the presentations, visit the Royal Society of Canada website.

Minister Bains tours Mitchell Hall ahead of opening

  • Navdeep Bains meets SpectraPlasmonics
    Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen speaks with two members of Spectra Plasmonics.
  • Navdeep Bains at Beaty Water Research Centre
    Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, and Principal Daniel Woolf listen to Pascale Champagne, Director of the Beaty Water Research Centre.
  • Navdeep Bains, Kevin Deluzio, Kimberly Woodhouse
    Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Kevin Deluzio speak with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains during his tour of Mitchell Hall.
  • Navdeep Bains and students
    Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains stops for a photo with a pair of Queen's students during his tour of Mitchell Hall.
  • Navdeep Bains and tour group
    From left: Vice-Principal (University Relations) Michael Fraser; Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney; Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen; Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains; Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Kevin Deluzio; and Vice-Principal (Research) Kimberly Woodhouse.

Principal Daniel Woolf welcomed Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains and Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen for a tour of the newly-renovated Mitchell Hall, on Thursday March 28.

Joined by Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, Kim Woodhouse, Vice-Principal (Research), Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations), and Kevin Deluzio Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, the tour included stops at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre, and the facility’s Technology-Enabled Active Learning Spaces.

Minister Bains also visited the Beaty Water Research Centre, touring the lab spaces alongside director Pascale Champagne and some of her students. The tour wrapped up with a brief visit to the future home of Ingenuity Labs.

The construction of Mitchell Hall was supported in part by an investment from the Government of Canada under the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (PSI-SIF). Queen’s will host the grand opening of Mitchell Hall on Saturday, March 30.

Putting a focus on water-related issues

Water-related issues are increasingly becoming a driving force for economic growth, social well-being, and a healthy population in Canada and around the world. This critical interest is reflected in the diversity of water-related research and education initiatives at the Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC), which recently moved into its state-of-the-art research facilities in Mitchell Hall, the result of a generous gift from geologist and entrepreneur Ross J. Beaty.

The BWRC encourages collaborative interdisciplinary research, education and outreach, spanning traditional water-related disciplines, as well as non-traditional and emerging disciplines. Recent highlights include new research funding and the launch of the BWRC’s first on-line interdisciplinary graduate program in Water and Human Health (WHH GDip)

[Pascale Champagne]
Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering), director of the Beaty Water Research Centre, and her master’s student Nicole Woodcock, recently received research funding from the NSERC Engage and the Ontario Centre of Excellence Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I) programs. (University Communications)

Collaborative research to prevent tailing mine failures

BWRC Director Pascale Champagne (Civil Engineering) and her master’s student Nicole Woodcock recently received research funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Engage program ($20,000), and the Ontario Centre of Excellence Voucher for Innovation and Productivity I (VIP I) program ($25,000), to assess the feasibility of using microbially-induced calcite precipitation (MICP) to improve the deposit performance of tailings.

[BWRC]“This research is crucial given that tailing dam failures risk human life, destroy property and communities, contaminate rivers, fisheries and drinking water,” Dr. Champagne says. “Earlier this year hundreds lost their lives in the tailings dam collapse in Brazil which was just one of many major tailings dam disaster in the last decade.”

Tailings are by-products from mining operations. Mine tailing particulates easily diffuse into the surrounding environment, leaching acidic drainage and heavy metals to surface and groundwater. Without treatment these tailings can take several hundred years to consolidate due to their poor water-releasing properties, and, in some cases failure to consolidate has led to catastrophic disasters.

[Nicole Woodcock]
Nicole Woodcock

“Recent studies suggest biologically-catalyzed reactions can be used to increase the geotechnical strength of soft soils,” Woodcock says. “The application of this process to tailings has the potential to remediate and reduce the risk of tailing dam failures.”    

“The Beaty Water Research Centre encourages partnerships with industrial and non-industrial partners to tackle import issues,” adds Jyoti Kotecha, Associate Director Research & Business Development for BWRC. “Our state-of-the-art facilities in Mitchell Hall allow us to increase the scale of our research activities. We are looking forward to working with BGC Engineering Inc. on this important research.”

BGC Engineering Inc. is a private, employee-owned Canadian company with expertise in mine waste engineering and mine closure planning and design.

Preparing the future workforce

With support from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the BWRC is launching a new online, interdisciplinary graduate diploma program in Water and Human Health (WHH GDip), in May 2019.

“The Water and Human Health program will provide enhanced training for students from different disciplines and highlights a cross disciplinary approach to issues related to water and health,” says Dr. Champagne. “The program is the first of its kind in Canada, and positions Queen’s as a leader in interdisciplinary graduate education.”

The WHH GDip program can be completed on a full-time basis in four months through four online courses. Upon successful completion participants will receive a graduate diploma from Queen’s, giving them a competitive edge in their future careers. The diploma, although a standalone offering, can also be applied to course-work required for a course-based or research master’s program offered in a number of departments and faculties at Queen’s.

“This program will offer in-depth knowledge related to the chemical, biological and physical components of water, while also capturing global environment policy implications, to provide participants of the program a better understanding of the impacts of water on public health,” says Dr. Hall, Associate Director of Education & Outreach for BWRC. “The WHH GDip program is the first of several interdisciplinary graduate diploma programs that BWRC will be launching over the next five years.”

Find out more about the Beaty Water Research Centre.

[Water and Human Health]


Recognizing research outreach

Queen’s researcher Oyedeji Ayonrinde garners outreach award for efforts to educate Canadians about the risks of cannabis.

Oyedeji Ayonrinde (Psychiatry) has received the 2019 Biomedical Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research Canada (PIR). This national award recognizes the work of biomedical researchers who have undertaken significant outreach education efforts for the benefit of the Canadian public.

[Oyedeji Ayonrinde (Psychiatry)]
Oyedeji Ayonrinde (Psychiatry) is the recipient of the 2019 Biomedical Science Ambassador Award from Partners in Research Canada. (University Communications)

Dr. Ayonrinde garnered the award on the strength of his efforts to educate Canadians about cannabis. His work in this area has focused on both teaching the public about the potential risks of cannabis use, especially for youth, and educating other health care professionals about the latest developments in cannabis research.

“I owe this award to and share it with all the young people, families, educators and clinicians striving relentlessly for the greater good of our youth,” says Dr. Ayonrinde, the Medical Director of the Early Psychosis Intervention Program in South Eastern Ontario, Heads Up!

Dr. Ayonrinde has developed educational programs that he has delivered to a variety of audiences, including teenagers, parents, secondary school teachers, postsecondary students, hospital staff, and emergency first responders. He has also led awareness sessions with the Indigenous leaders at Tyendinaga and the Canadian Armed Forces, and recently testified to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on cannabis use and veterans.

In addition to leading these traditional classes, Dr. Ayonrinde has also raised awareness through webinars, social media, and other innovative methods. With Professor John-Kurt Pliniussen (Smith School of Business), he has worked with Queen’s students to develop marketing campaigns about the risks of cannabis for high school-aged students in Eastern Ontario.

“Children, youth and young adults are key to the future of all societies and deserve to have the best mental wellbeing they can,” Dr. Ayonrinde says. “Frequent, heavy use of high potency cannabis at an early age is a high risk factor for the development of psychiatric disorders. While genetic factors also contribute to the risk of psychosis, cannabis is a risk we can mitigate or even eliminate.”

PIR is a registered Canadian charity founded in 1988 to help Canadians understand the significance, accomplishments and promise of biomedical research in advancing health and medicine. Since its genesis, PIR has broadened its scope to encompass all areas of academic and applied research as fields of discovery and study for Canadian students. For more information about the Partners in Research national awards, visit the website.

Research storytelling events captivate audiences

[IGnite Research poster]

Featuring topics from medical miracles to environmental policy, the IGnite lecture series has showcased the diversity of research happening at Queen’s to a captivated audience of campus and community members. On Thursday, March 28 the public will hear about the future of gender policy in the Canadian school systems and innovative methods to solve environmental problems.

IGnite is a collaboration between the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and the University Relations portfolio. Each event features two researchers from different fields discussing their projects and research experiences, while also including interactive demonstrations and poster presentations from students and additional researchers. The series offers a public platform where researchers can share what first ignited their curiosity and motivates them to pursue their research.

Lee Airton (Education) is a SSHRC-funded researcher and will present “The future of gender: Policy and practice playing catch-up to an ever-changing phenomenon.” They recently published a popular press book on welcoming gender diversity in everyday life, Gender: Your guide. Dr. Airton has also received a 2017 Youth Role Model of the Year Award from the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity and founded They is My Pronoun (TIMP) and the No Big Deal Campaign

Dr. Airton explains that research should be shared with those it impacts. 

“I study something that is relevant to every single member of the public, but is thought of as something that only transgender people care about: how other people read and respond to our gender expression, every day,” Dr. Airton says. “Events like the IGnite lecture allow me to bring the implications of my research directly to people who might not have thought about how they participate in gender, and encourage them to act on what we know about making gender into a safer and more comfortable experience for everyone.”

Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry Philip Jessop (Chemistry) will discuss his research on carbonated water as it applies to solving environmental problems. An expert in switchable surfactants, Dr. Jessop received the NSERC John C. Polanyi Award in 2008 and is the technical director of GreenCentre Canada.

Dr. Jessop further elaborates that for him IGnite is an opportunity to return the public’s investment in his research.

“Society allows me to do research and it is only fair that in return I let society know what I’m doing,” he says. “I find that many people like to hear about new ways to reduce environmental harm.”

The event, the final in a three-part series for the 2018-2019 academic year, will take place Thursday 6:30-9 pm at the Biosciences Complex at 116 Barrie Street. Registration is free on Eventbrite and light refreshments will be served.

For more information on the series, visit the McDonald Institute’s website.  

The Conversation: Hurricanes to deliver a bigger punch to coasts


[Hurricane Idai flooding]
Flood waters cover large tracts of land in Mozambique after cyclone Idai made landfall. Rapidly rising floodwaters have cut off thousands of families from aid organizations. (World Food Programme)

When tropical cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira, Mozambique on March 14, a spokesperson for the UN World Meteorological Organization called it possibly the the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere.

This massive and horrifying storm caused catastrophic flooding and widespread destruction of buildings and roads in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi feared the death toll might rise to more than 1,000 people.

Cyclones, also known as hurricanes or typhoons, are intense wind storms that can take thousands of lives and cause billions of dollars in damage. They generate large ocean waves and raise water levels by creating a storm surge. The combined effects cause coastal erosion, flooding and damage to anything in its path.

Although other storms have hit this African coast in the past, the storm track for cyclone Idai is fairly rare. Warmer-than-usual sea-surface temperatures were directly linked to the unusually high number of five storms near Madagascar and Mozambique in 2000, including tropical cyclone Eline. Warmer ocean temperatures could also be behind the intensity of cyclone Idai, as the temperature of the Indian Ocean is 2 C to 3 C above the long-term average.

Climate change and ocean warming may be linked to the increasing intensity of storms making landfall and to the development of strong hurricanes reaching places not affected in recent history. These regions may not be prepared with the coastal infrastructure to withstand the extreme forces of these storms.

The role of climate change

Scientists are working to improve their forecasts for hurricane winds and waves, and research on ocean and atmosphere interactions is boosting our understanding of the relationship between climate and the formation of hurricanes. Still, there is considerable uncertainty in predicting trends in extreme weather conditions 100 years into the future. Some computer simulations suggest possible changes in these storms due to climate change.

[Hurricane Idai]
Tropical cyclone Idai rapidly strengthened to a category 3 storm in the warm waters between Mozambique and Madagascar. (NOAA)

For example, scientists have computed detailed simulations of hurricane-type storms for future climate-warming scenarios and revealed that in some cases the hurricane season could be longer. The intensity of storms could also increase so that there are more major hurricanes (categories 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale) with winds reaching speeds greater than 209 km/h.

Since these storms are fuelled by ocean heat, warmer ocean conditions will influence their intensity and longevity. This may enable them to travel further over ocean water at higher latitudes, and further across the continent after they make landfall.

With global sea level rise expected to continue to accelerate through the 21st century, the impacts of coastal flooding from tropical cyclones is also expected to worsen.

Atlantic hurricanes

On the Atlantic coast of North America, the hurricane season starts in June and runs to November. We have very recent reminders that these storms can be catastrophic. Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico in 2017, caused infrastructure damage of US$90 billion and may have killed more than 4,600 people.

Urban areas can take weeks or months to recover from the flooding caused by the storm surge, which can be compounded by heavy rainfall. When the category 4 hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, it caused US$125 billion in damage, mostly due to flooding in the metropolitan area.

Hurricanes that reach places that historically have not been affected have major and long-lasting impacts. An example is hurricane Sandy in 2012, the largest storm on record in the Atlantic Ocean. This storm made a westward turn that is very different from typical tropical hurricane tracks.

Its waves and storm surge pounded the coasts of New Jersey and New York, with a huge impact washing over coastal dunes, eroding beaches and causing flooding in New York City.

It also had a major economic impact, costing US$71 billion with long-term effects on the coastal environment and lasting socioeconomic impacts in a densely populated area.

Damage to coasts

Hurricanes can cause severe erosion and breach islands, creating new pathways for water flow between the ocean and back-barrier estuaries. As these storms impact land, they can also create a dangerous multi-hazard environment of fast-moving air, water and debris.

[Hurricane Irma]
Hurricane Isabel made landfall on North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Sept. 18, 2003. Its effects were felt as far as western New England and into the eastern Great Lakes. (NASA)

Urban coastal areas are under a major threat, since coastal structures may not have been designed for the waves and surges that these storms generate. Hurricane Katrina, the mega-disaster that took more than 1,200 lives and cost US$161 billion in 2005, taught engineers the hard way that hurricanes can cause unanticipated loads on bridges, buildings and coastal structures.

The amount of damage a hurricane creates depends on the intensity and characteristics of the storm, combined with the physical and social setting of the coastal area that it hits. Cities face a high risk of hurricane-related disasters, since they contain higher populations and more infrastructure. This can lead to widespread and catastrophic impacts, such as the massive storm surge and flooding generated by typhoon Haiyan, which lead to more than 6,000 deaths in the Philippines in 2013.

Future Impacts

Regardless of changes to the climatic conditions that cause hurricanes to form and intensify, the fact is that these storms already occur frequently. Each year, 80 to 100 tropical storms occur globally. Of these, 40 to 50 are hurricanes, with 10 to 15 classified as major hurricanes.

Climate change projections suggest the number of intense hurricanes will rise. Ocean warming will enable these storms to travel further, and we may see greater hurricane impacts on coasts in the future.

This could include more storm strikes to northern coasts in places like Atlantic Canada, where hurricane Juan made landfall in 2003.

We may also see more hurricanes reaching large inland lakes such as the Great Lakes, affecting major cities like Toronto and Chicago. Rare events, such as hurricane Ophelia that hit Ireland in 2017, may become more common.

When we build houses, roads and bridges and increase population density in low-lying coastal areas, we walk a fine line if these coastal regions are not prepared for the ferocity of extreme storms in the future.The Conversation


Ryan P. Mulligan, is an associate professor in Civil Engineering at Queen's.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.  


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